After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Wise Men, or Magi, came to visit Him (Matthew 2:1-2). But who and what were these Wise Men? How do we recognize Wise Men when we encounter them? Is it possible for others to be so wise? And if so, how does one achieve such status?
First, it is wise to take a look at the distinction between being wise and being great in the eyes of men. The Wise Men lived in the time of Herod the Great. Herod was an Edomite, a descendent of Esau. Herod was made king of Judea by Augustus and Antonius, who were the chief rulers of the Roman state at that time. Despite being complimented with the title of great, Herod was actually a man known for his falsehood and cruelty. He was neither wise nor great, and sought to bring destruction to our LORD.
The Wise Men were called Magi – magicians. Among the Persians, the Magi performed the duties of philosophers and priests. No Persian could become king before first becoming a Magi. There is reason to suspect some of the Magi practiced unlawful arts such as sorcery, as this same word is used of Simon (Acts 8:9, 11) and of Elymus (Acts 13:6). Yet as we see here, even as an infant, Jesus Christ had the power to gain victory over the devil’s influence in the hearts of these men, who recognized His power and made a long journey to adore Him. Whatever sort of Wise Men they had been before, they had begun to be even wiser by acknowledging and enquiring after Christ.
Whereas some of their history and heritage is murky and obscure, we do know the Magi were Gentiles – they did not belong to the tribes of Israel. It is ironic the Jews did not recognize Christ, the One sent as their Messiah, yet these Gentiles came from afar to admire Him. History often exhibits an interesting irony: those nearest to the means are furthest from the benefits. As Jesus Himself said, “Only in his own town and in his own house is a prophet without honor”. (Matthew 13:57). Jesus had come to the House if Israel, but was not honored by His own people.
The Wise Men give us the first glimpse of what was to come in the New Covenant. The birth, and later death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was the start of a process by which those who were remote spiritually could be drawn near to Christ and made wise (John 6:44). These men happened to be scholars, emphasizing to us that educated men and women should complete their learning by learning of Christ, not just secular topics. It is a sad commentary that in today’s world the scholarly elite are often the first to declare the insufficiency of our LORD. Such fools are not wise men.
The Bible tells us repeatedly how God appreciates Wise Men and Women and He considers them to be normal. God blessed Solomon richly when Solomon requested wisdom from God (1 Kings 3:9). Solomon later wrote extensively in the Book Proverbs about the virtues of wisdom. James tells us how much God wants to give us the wisdom to be normal, saying “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5). Jesus Himself counsels us how to be wise, telling us the Wise Man builds his house on the Rock of Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24).
The story of the Magi tells us the I AM God calls all men and women to be Wise Men. He wants all men, Jews and Gentiles alike, to see the wisdom in believing in His Son. He tells us it is normal to be wise and to put our faith in Him. So the question is, “Does God consider you to be one of His Wise Men?” Have you accepted Jesus Christ as LORD of your life? Have you built your house upon the Rock or upon a lesser foundation that will be washed away in the storms of life?
Jesus calls from afar those who are spiritually lost. He calls for all of us to be normal and Wise Men and Women. He doesn’t care whether you’ve received an education at one of the finest schools on Earth. If you don’t accept Him, He can’t bless you as being wise. He will bless as wise those with no education if they have the wisdom to accept Him. He will bless Jews and Gentiles alike. He will bless the young and the old, the rich and the poor, without exception, if they only put their faith in Him.
Long ago, Wise Men traveled far, seeking Jesus. Wise men and women still seek Him.
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A servant of Jesus Christ
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